Dog aggression with food and territory

Dog aggression with food and treats can be scary. The lip goes up, the ears go back, the growl sounds, and for Cinnamon, the hairs all along her back go up.

What is dog aggression with food?

Dog aggression with food can happen when you put the food in your dog’s dish and he starts to eat. When you approach them to put more food in or just simply get too close, they stiffen up, hover closer over the food, start baring their teeth and a low growl starts in their throat.

This can also happen with a bone, toys or treats. Your dog is happily chewing on their bone. When someone gets too close, they start to growl.

I have even seen it happen with people. A dog is sitting on their owners lap and another person or dog comes close and they start to growl, bark and bare their teeth.

In Cinnamon’s situation, she “guards” or has aggression with her space. Her space is our family room. Specifically, the couch she likes to lay on. She’s also not fond of people walking through the family room too. Strangers are the only people that Cinnamon has this aversion with. She doesn’t growl or bark at friends and family members. Now, this is a touch one because this is what I want, right? I want Cinnamon to guard our house. I take great comfort in the fact that when my husband is traveling, I know that NO STRANGER will even come close to entering the house because not only does Cinnamon growl, bark, and the hairs on her hind end rise, but she also nips!

This is great if someone breaks in, but what happens when I have a friend over or even extended family that we only see a couple times of year?

Is there any training or tips that really work?

What I have always done right when I get a pup is I make them comfortable with me being around them when they eat. I stand by them, hover over them and even pour more food into their bowl. I want them to know that I’m not a threat and to get used to me being around them. When they have a treat, I play with them with the treat.

Feed your dog at the same time every day. Set up a routine, prepare the food and place it in front of them. Make them sit or lie down patiently and stay until you say they can eat. Once your dog has successfully waited for your signal to eat, then you can let them eat. This lets them know that you made the food and that you are the alpha dog.

Before they dive into that bowl of food, you can have a couple of kibble in your hand and let them take their first couple of bites out of your hand.

When your dog is eating their regular food, approach them with something better, like meat or a special treat. The goal here is to get your dog to stop eating their food to take the treat from you. This teaches your dog several things. One is that no one is going to steal his food if he looks away from it. The other is that removing his attention from his food when people come around leads to a reward.

Territory aggression…Cinnamon’s problem

Territory aggression in Cinnamon’s case is areas such as doorways and the areas within the length of the her leash. Specifically, I think it’s the family room, front door and hallway. I have not figured out how to help this. I did hire a trainer and it helped with some other areas but not this specific one.

What I have done so far, is I put Cinnamon outside in our fenced in backyard when people come over. It doesn’t calm her down but it keeps everyone safe.

What have I tried? Well, I have tried having people stand in the hallway and throw Cinnamon treats.

I have tried basic commands of sit and stay because she can do these in other situations. But in real action time, she’s too agitated to listen.

I have tried sitting by her and having her on a leash. This helps the most.

I also take her for long walks before I know guests are coming and this helps tremendously.

I would love to tell you I have figured Cinnamon out

But I haven’t. Territory aggression is still a big problem with Cinnamon. In the next several days I will be researching this more and getting back to you.

Don’t give up

Don’t give up on your dog and I won’t give up on Cinnamon. They are worth it!!

Dogs urination vs carpet. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

When we dream of getting our pup, we think of cuddles, long walks, warm petting, happy greetings and a fun tug of war. We are in denial of the dog hair, muddy paws, loud barking and pet piddles.

Pet piddles…indoors…ugh!

If we are lucky, our dog will be already house broken or catch on pretty quickly. Sometimes we even have an older dog in the house still that can train the pup. But sometimes, it still happens, pet piddles. There are several reasons why this could happen. When Cinnamon was a pup, she would get so excited when someone new walked into the house, she would just pee a little. Thankfully she grew out of that. 

Another reason is that a dog can be anxious and has an accident then too. First we need to check to see if our pup has a urinary tract infection or any other health issue. If that doesn’t seem to be the case, then we need to look at the environment. If you just moved to a new house, that’s an obvious one, maybe Fido can’t find or remember where the door is. Maybe the back yard is strange and they are scared to go out there. After much repetition, that one will be solved.

 Maybe someone new has moved into the house and the schedule has been upset. Again, once, everything calms down and a schedule is reset, everything will be fine. If all of this isn’t the problem, then we need to look into behavior.

Behavior conditioning is something we need to be aware of.

Many of you have maybe heard of Pavlov. A behavior happens and then it is reinforced. Sometimes, we don’t realize we are reinforcing a behavior….So, Fido, just urinated on the carpet. You are frustrated or mad and yell at Fido. Fido runs and hides and looks terrified. You have cleaned up the mess, look at how upset Fido is and feel bad. So, now you go pet and love and pick up Fido. Bingo! You have just reinforced the urinating behavior. Fido has just learned to pee, be yelled at and then be loved. They got attention either way, positive or negative.

If you yell or punish your dog, he/she may become afraid of YOU! Then they can either become aggressive towards you or won’t urinate in front of you inside or outside.

The best thing to do is to connect a reinforcement right when the behavior happens. If you see your pup urinating inside, pick him up, take him outside and reward him when he goes potty outside. No yelling or screaming or over reacting.

Retrain your dog.

Every July 4th weekend is a nightmare for Cinnamon. She starts urinating in the house again because she is terrified to go outside because of the firework noise. We calmly remember why this is happening. We take her outside when it’s quiet, reinforce her when she goes to the bathroom outside and bring her back in. We remember to take her outside on a schedule again because it is very likely, she won’t scratch at the door, because she’s scared to go outside.

Schedule, schedule, schedule

The best way to train your dog is to be very consistent and on a schedule. Right when you wake up, take them outside. Reward them when they relieve them self. Put them on a feeding schedule. After they eat, take them outside. When they urinate, reward them. When you need to leave, either crate them or put a belly band on them. When you get home, take your dog outside, they urinate, you reward. And the cycle goes on. This not only works for pups, but it will work for an older dog and a rescue dog. 


Clean the area properly.

I can’t stress this enough. When your dog urinates, an enzyme is left in the carpet. If the area is not cleaned thoroughly, the dog, any dog, can smell the enzyme and then will pee on the same area. Now we’ve created a designated pee spot in the house where we did not want one! I tried everything!!! Bleach, baking soda, ammonia, club soda, tea tree oil, etc. I finally found something that really works. Give this cleaner a try next time you have a pet piddle to clean up. 


Don’t give up!!!

Please don’t give up on your dog!!! 25% of dogs get taken back to the kennel because they urinate in the house. Be patient, try everything and then get professional help for you and your dog.

One of the most common behavior concerns in rescue dogs is leash reactivity.

Leash reactivity in the simplest sense, is an overreaction to stimuli in the environment, commonly people or other dogs.


Depending on the background of the rescue, socializing either with humans or dogs, can prove difficult. This is largely based on the history of the specific rescue dog and how they were treated or introduced to humans and dogs. It also depends on the breed of the dog and their personality. We typically buy dogs for companionship. We are lonely. We love to have Fido to come home to, cuddle with and force us to exercise. As humans, we need socializing and so does our pet. Cinnamon is not big on socializing. When my son lived at home and was active in his band, he had 6-7 teenage/young adult men coming to the basement in our house at least two times a week. AND IT WAS LOUD!!! Did I mention that my son is the drummer??? I don’t know if it was actually the men that were walking in the house or if she knew that anyone that went into the basement made a lot of noise, but she HATED them!!! They all tried their hardest to get them to like her. Nope. We have a strong dog gate in the door frame, right before the basement door and she stands there and jumps against the gate and barks and tries to nip them. I would love to tell you that we have broken her of that habit, but we haven’t. We continue to socialize her with walks and bringing family over and my daughter’s dogs. I have found that the more we expose cinnamon for longer periods ‘> of time the better she does. Meaning, she has to get used to them.

This is the exact dog gate we bought. Only it was in black.

How do we train a leash reactive rescue dog?

I did get a trainer for Cinnamon. It really helped both Cinnamon and myself. Helped is the word, cured all of our issues, no. It did give me some very valuable information to keep me constantly thinking and rearranging how I do things with her.

One of the things we were told is eye contact. When we are on a walk, make her get eye contact with me and reward her with a treat or praise. When she is going crazy and lunging after a dog, or is even anticipating a dog coming towards us, there is no way I can make eye contact with her. I’m hoping in the future, that will work.

One of the tricks that really work for us is to make a U-turn. Yep, just what it sounds like. We turn around and go the other way. It doesn’t mean that we can’t keep going in the direction that I intended. It just means that we have to make a U-turn and go in a different direction until the distraction or other person/dog is gone. This works when Cinnie and I are on a walk and another dog is crossing the street, but going over our path and into a different direction. It also helps if a dog is coming up on the other side of the street.

The very best thing that works for us is to give Cinnamon a lot of space. I really think that she would do the flight response if she could, but since we have leash laws in our area, she can’t. I do let her get as far away as she would like and that seems to help the most. We make a wide semi circle, going far into the grass, off of the sidewalk or trail, when we can.

The last thing I do, is I don’t make contact with the other dog walker and dog. I don’t want to engage in conversation, Cinnie and I just need to keep moving. If someone does stop and wants to make a comment on how pretty Cinnamon is or something and they tell me their dog won’t bite, I tell them that cinnamon is a frightened do and will bite. It’s honest and I need to do everything I can to keep Cinnamon, myself and others safe.

Safe walking requires the right tools

A simple collar around the neck simply won’t do for Cinnamon. She pulls so hard that she will choke herself and start spiting up and gagging. Some dogs, can actually cause damage to their esophagus. I use a harness. It gives me a lot more control over Cinnamon and the situation and it is much safer for her. I get one that is comfortable for her, easy to put on her and is ‘> washable!!

Socializing and leash reactivity can cause much stress

The best advice I can give through experience is to be pro-active. Chose a time to socialize your dog when he/she is at their best, when there isn’t food around and when you can control the situation. Have the right tools to be able to make it a safe situation. Go forth and be social!!

Training a fearful rescue dog

Is your dog fearful or does he have anxiety? What is the difference and does it really matter which one it is?

Anxiety in dogs look a bit different than in people but it’s affect is the same.

So, what do I mean by that? First, let’s define anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. In other words, it’s worrying about the future. It’s worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future. In dogs, that can look like pacing or panting quickly or jumping up or high-pitched barking. In people, it can look like someone biting a finger nail, loss of appetite, or a furrowed brow. For my Cinnamon, anxiety sets in, when she hears the front door bell ringing and she is anticipating that a stranger will be walking through my front door. She starts jumping, barking and the hairs on her back go up!

So, what does a fearful dog look like?

The definition of fear is an unpleasant and strong emotion, reason for alarm, or danger. Fear for a dog is something that is happening now. It is something that startles your pup now. In a former post I talked about how Cinnamon hates when a bicyclist comes up behind us on a walk. She wasn’t anticipating it, it just came upon her and startled her and caused fear. What does she do? She lurches out at the bike, barks, and the hairs on the back of her back rise. It’s like when we are in deep thought reading this blog and someone comes up behind you quietly and puts a hand on your shoulder and you jump. They startled you and caused momentary fear.

What to do?

The first thing to do, if you have a fearful dog, is to try to avoid the overstimulating situation if you can. We live by a busy road. The sound of the cars and bikes, cause fear in my Cinnamon, so I choose to walk by that road when the traffic is low. That way I can socialize her into the situation without overwhelming her. I am mentally prepared. I am on the watch out for oncoming bikers, walkers, cars, so I am not startled and I can stay calm. There are some products that you can buy to help reduce the tension in your dog before you he/she has to go into a potentially fearful situation. I talked about a thundershirt in a previous post. I cannot say enough about how well it works. It gives Cinnie the comforting sense of security she needs by putting gentle pressure throughout her torso as we walk. Another item that really works is calming drops or treats. It’s really hard to get cinnamon to take the drops, but she loves her treats. I find these treats to work really well

. ‘> These treats provide Cinnamon with just the right amount of relaxation before our walk so she’s not so skittish.

The main focus is to remember who is in charge with our fearful rescue dog.

We, the master, are in charge. We need to remember to be mindful of when we go for a walk or when we have visitors over. We need to keep our pets in a safe, calm environment. We need to provide them with the strategies they need to be at their best and we must always remain calm and be in control, when they need us to be.

Anxiety and the rescue dog


You have just rescued this beautiful new pup and you’ve brought him/her to your home. Is he being shy to a new home or is it anxiety?

There are several ways your dog can show anxiety

So, you understand that you have just brought your new furry baby home and he’s being shy or nervous. Understandable, right? Day one, two, three, now a week goes by. When is he going to warm up? You feed him, cuddle him, pet him, give him a nice warm bed with stuffed animals to snuggle with and he still is not relaxed. What to do?

My dog hides under the table or behind the chair

When we brought our lab, Cade, home he would hide behind a chair whenever there was a loud noise. As a pup, what the noise was or where the noise came from, didn’t matter. Off Cade would run. As he got older, he got used to the “regular” noise and would only go and hide behind a chair when the fireworks came out. The dreaded night for many dogs is the 4th of July because of all of the noise. Even if Cade was in the house, it didn’t matter. The house would shake with the noise. I wanted to make this night bearable for him to get through. After much research I heard of something called a thundershirt. I ordered it on and it didn’t look like much when it came in…a dog thin dog vest with Velcro! But after I put it on Cade snugly, he calmed down instantly! The theory behind the thundershirt is that it gives the dog a calming hug to reduce the fears and stress. Just as swaddling new babies can help them to feel more secure, compression can help anxious dogs to feel more secure. The pressure applied by the ThunderShirt has a calming effect that helps approximately 80 percent of dogs with anxiety to feel relief.

My dog doesn’t hide but….

There are many different types of phobias in dogs, but most prominent are noise-based phobias and separation anxiety. Each dog may exhibit different signs of these phobias, but some of the most commonly seen symptoms include:

  • Tail tucking
  • Hiding (particularly under beds or in closets)
  • Howling
  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting
  • Chewing
  • Paw licking
  • Destruction (such as ripping trash bags open or ripping the sofa cushions)
  • Defecating or urinating in the house
  • Lap sitting (particularly noticeable in bigger dogs)
  • Barking, crying and whining

If you have ever had your dog do any of these symptoms, it’s heart breaking when you can’t provide them with the comfort they need.

Why Chose the Thundershirt?

  • Simple and affordable solution to thunder (or other types) of anxiety
  • Does not present the potential for side effects that come with other anxiety treatments
  • Easy to put on and has Velcro closures making it adjustable
  • Can be cleaned and put through the washing machine to maintain cleanliness
  • Designed to be safe for use over extended periods of time (consideration must be given to the external temperature to avoid the possibility of overheating)

Who doesn’t feel comforted by a hug? By a warm, heavy compression?

Cinnamon and the thundershirt

On to Cinnamon, the star of this website! She is truly my rescue dog. Anxiety accompanies her everywhere, it’s like an unwanted shadow or companion. Sounds like many adults doesn’t it? The difference is, that sometimes, in adults, we can reason with our anxiety. (I have anxiety too…like mom, like dog, I guess!) But Cinnamon doesn’t understand that the loud car that is driving past her isn’t going to run her over. She hates bicycles the most. Maybe because they sneak up behind her and then race past. Anything that is loud or sudden sets her into a panic. Unfortunately for her, me and the unsuspecting victim, her anxiety makes her lash out to bite. Or nip, rather. I have to be on my constant guard also, or it won’t be a fun outing. I tried the thundershirt on her and truly, I tell you, it really works. There’s a calmness that comes over her. She isn’t as jumpy. Not every noise spooks her. It’s wonderful. We don’t keep it on her all day. I just put it on her when I know she will get nervous or anxious. Do the fireworks still bother her? Yes, but not as much. In fact, she can sleep now during them. This simple, yet effective product, has really helped us!

Rescue dog companions for seniors

This topic is close to my heart as I am 55 and love, love, love my furry child. I will never be without a dog in my life. That being said, I’m not the spring chicken I used to be and cannot keep up with the needs of a very active dog.

What are the benefits of having dogs as we, ourselves, age?

Loneliness…empty nest syndrome….companionship….all great reasons to want a lovable, snuggable pet! Dogs have this sixth sense, maybe it’s instinct, but they know when we are lonely or sad. I was in bed one night, sad and crying and all of a sudden my dog burst through the door, jumped on my bed and laid right beside me. Understand, that this was extremely unusual. My dog sleeps on the main floor and my bedroom is on the second floor. Also, I have a gate that keeps my dog downstairs and I close my bedroom door at night. Somehow, she just knew I needed her that night and found a way to me. Dogs’ joy when they see us is like none other. They show complete acceptance no matter our mood or health. They also encourage us to exercise. Every day my Cinnamon gets me outside to go for a long walk with her. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t have her!

Let’s look at several good choices in dog breeds for senior

Scottish terrier

The Scottish terrier is a small dog breed that is typically a good choice for senior citizens to enjoy in the home. They have a life expectancy of about 12 years and is typically not known for many health concerns. They are one of the best breeds when it comes to grooming and maintenance. This small dog breed reaches around 20 pounds in weight, making this an easy option for the aging adult to be able to pick up when needed. Known for their loyalty and caring nature, the Scottish terrier is a great fit for the senior citizen’s lifestyle.


The Biewer is a small dog breed, one of the smallest actually, and is a lovable breed that typically can live for about 14 years. Known for not shedding very much, the Biewer is known for being playful, affectionate, social, and gentle, which is ideal for any older adult with balance or physical limitation issues. You can find this breed in many colors including black, white, tan, and golden colored, giving you plenty of options to select from. Consider this dog if you are looking for a great lap dog to pet, cherish, and love.


Known for being larger than the typical corgi dog breed, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a mid-sized dog breed that works well for any older adult. Known for their ease in training, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi can reach close to 40 pounds at their maximum size and they can typically live for about 11 years. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a great dog for any active older adult and if you enjoy a dog that is capable of tricks, agility, and for being a guard then consider this dog for your home.

This is quite possibly the most popular small dog breeds around and regardless of your age the pug is a great fit for in the home. Known for their unique face and size, the pug is a great fit for the senior citizen who wants a companion at home to be with. Pugs are definitely a playful breed; however, they do not necessarily require a lot of exercise, making this a great option for any senior citizen of any age. They are not known for needing to be groomed very often and they are typically very low maintenance.


The theme with dogs and older adults is generally the size of the dog. Many older adults flock to the smaller dog breed, due to their playful nature and for being gentle with other adults and dogs. The Pomeranian may reach 10 pounds, but typically they are less than this, making the Pomeranian one of the smallest breeds you could get. They are very playful, yet they do not require excessive exercise like other breeds. You can take this dog around the house and carry them regardless of your fitness levels.

What is your lifestyle?

Remember to consider what your lifestyle is before purchasing a pet. Are you active? Are you sedentary? Do you want a dog that sits on your lap? Choose a pet that will fit into your life perfectly.

Mix-breeds or muts

These are many of your rescue dogs. There isn’t any health records on them and you may not be quite sure where they came from. You can still bet on the fact that you will be able to tell the predominant mix of the dog and rely on the fact that this will be their dominant traits.